Did you know that 43% of prospective homeowners instinctively search online as the first step to finding their ideal property? According to a recent National Association of Realtors study, half of these searches are done on mobile, with the other half on desktop or laptop devices. So it's important for your real estate business to adopt an omnichannel lead generation approach in this modern age.
Where do realtors get most of their leads? Dedicated real estate lead generation companies are an excellent option for finding potential home buyers and sellers, ready for you to convert. This article explores five top realtor lead generation companies plus seven other tried and tested strategies, including text marketing (a form of mobile marketing), social media and traditional methods. But first...
What does a lead generation company do?
Lead generation companies provide a platform where a business can purchase leads – the details of consumers interested in its product or service. In the context of real estate, the business is a realtor, and leads are the contact details of people looking to buy, sell or rent a home.
This is a paid-for lead generation method that every real estate agent can benefit from. You pay to purchase a database of leads and then connect with each person to see if they need help finding a property.
Sourcing qualified leads – people who are already 'warmed up' to the idea of buying, renting or selling a home. It's much easier to convert warm leads than 'cold leads' – people who may have no interest in your service.
Saving time – the lead generation company does the hard work of finding leads and collecting data, thus saving hours, days and even weeks of labour-intensive calls.
A growing, region-specific or local database – even if prospects aren't ready to convert right now, you can nurture relationships so they turn to your real estate business when the time is right for them.
Business growth – the sooner you can guide a person through the buying/selling/renting process, the sooner you can benefit from their business. Having a list of highly qualified leads helps speed up the conversion process.
The top five lead generation companies for real estate agents
So, what is the best lead generation software for real estate? These five are worth considering: Zillow Premier Agent, REDX, Zurple, Zoho and BoldLeads. Most of them are suitable for US-based real estate agents. Discover key offerings, pricing options, and pros and cons below.
Zillow Premier Agent
Zillow Premier Agent will connect you with interested buyers and sellers that use Zillow and Trulia for their home search. The way it works is that you'll purchase a share of voice in a given ZIP code. According to one user's testimonial on the website, almost every lead provided by Zillow Premier Agent has turned into a contract/sale for them.
Largest online real estate agent in the US.
Includes broker management, if you have a team of agents to manage.
Client management tools, which include data insights and advertising resources as well as features that keep your pipeline moving, like reminders, custom notes and mobile notifications.
My Agent feature lets you be the go-to agent for targeted ZIP codes.
Reports with client feedback and conversion metrics.
Agent toolkit, which includes scripts to help you convert leads and connect with clients.
Access to training courses, webinars and events.
Price: Zillow Premier Agent offers pricing based on ZIP code and the number of home shoppers active in each area. High-traffic ZIP codes cost more than areas with lower traffic.
Pros: You’ll get qualified 'warm' leads and an exclusive relationship with them for 30 days when you use the My Agent feature.
Cons: It's difficult to know whether you'll get a good ROI as the pricing is somewhat obscure and varies by ZIP code.
REDX is a real estate prospecting platform that provides quality homeowner lead data and helps realtors to source new clients, list properties and develop sustainable business growth, irrespective of market conditions.
More than just phone numbers – some options include emails, market trend data, homeowner financial insights, lifestyle insights and more.
Tools for contacting prospects such as a powerful single-line or multi-line dialer and 'Vortex', REDX's leads management system.
Price: REDX has a monthly subscription which varies depending on the types of leads you want to buy. For example, it costs $59.99 per month for expired leads and $39.99 per month for pre-foreclosure leads. The dialling tools cost extra, but the Vortex system is included when you purchase leads.
Pros: All data is cross-checked against the US's Do Not Call (DNC) list, so it's safe to use. A great choice if you need to find leads in new places.
Cons: Leads can be tough to convert as you'll be working with contacts from expired and FSBO listings along with pre-foreclosure records. So cold calling is involved. Also, leads aren't exclusive, so other agents using the software can also access them.
Zurple is a lead-generation tool that helps real estate agents and brokers capture, nurture and convert leads. You get a branded website where prospects can search for properties in the areas you cover, and from there, you can analyse search behaviour and start conversations with visitors.
Email automation – Zurple sends personalised emails on your behalf to engage leads.
Contact alerts – you'll get notified of the best times to contact leads based on their browsing behaviour, for example, when they spend lots of time searching for properties. The software even recommends specific properties to mention to get the conversation started.
Lead profiling – you'll see each lead's preferred properties, budget, location, etc.
Clever targeting – Zurple targets subareas within cities and ZIP codes.
Price: There's a one-time setup fee of $799 plus a monthly subscription of £309. If you want multiple users, the cost increases further.
Pros: The system analyses lead behaviours to identify when they're most likely to convert, and you can have multiple websites if needed. It's a worthy option for a real estate professional that covers several locations and wants to prioritise leads based on behaviours.
Cons: It's not cheap, so you need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of money before you see the benefits of your first conversion. The website templates aren't highly customisable, and the support documents are also lacking, according to this detailed review.
Zoho is a suite of over 40 cloud-based products for small to medium-sized businesses (not just realtors). One of these apps is lead management. Using Zoho CRM, you can capture leads, nurture and engage with them, analyse information and measure ROI from online ad spend.
Key features include:
Easy lead capture using smart web forms on your own landing pages. You can also scan business cards to upload new contacts into the system or capture leads in the live chat window.
Zia data enrichment; a functionality that looks for more information about each lead.
Scoring rules for prioritising leads and faster conversions.
Assigning leads to specific agents based on pre-defined workflow rules, such as geographic location.
Omnichannel communication solution; Zoho CRM lets you connect with potential clients through phone, live chat, social media, and webinars.
Targeted email campaigns and comprehensive analytics.
Price: The cheapest plan is the 'Standard' plan which costs £12 per month, billed annually. This gives you access to the basic 'Leads' modules plus plenty of other features. The top plan is priced at £42 per month, billed annually.
Pros: It's an affordable yet feature-rich CRM platform that will scale as your small/medium-sized business grows. A free trial is available, so you can try before buying. The software integrates with other Zoho tools and third-party apps like Mailchimp and Google Analytics.
Cons: Zoho CRM requires a fair bit of customisation to get started.
BoldLeads is a CRM tool for realtors that offers exclusive real estate leads, branded web pages, automated follow-ups and market reports. It's geared up for new and established real estate agents, teams and brokers across the US and Canada.
Exclusive leads (buyers and sellers) based on your ZIP code.
Landing pages with 40-plus templates to choose from.
Customisable follow-up funnels through email, text and voice broadcasts.
Streamlined CRM with email and text leads in one place.
Professional ad management.
Text concierge (serves as a front desk for enquiries), IDX website and market reports for the 'Professional' and 'Advanced' plans.
Price: You'll need to contact BoldLeads direct to get prices for its three plans: Lite, Professional and Advanced.
Pros: Great for new estate agents that need a simple solution to source and manage leads. There's no need to compete with other agents as leads are exclusive.
Cons: No free trial available, and the pricing isn't transparent. Some valuable features, e.g. market reports, are only available on the Advanced plan.
Seven proven lead-generation strategies for realtors
Let's look now at alternative methods to generate real estate leads, starting with one of the most direct and effective: SMS marketing.
1. Text marketing
Text marketing involves people subscribing to your SMS notifications either by texting a keyword to your shortcode or submitting their phone number via a website signup form. Once subscribed, each person becomes a lead! And a warm lead at that because each subscriber is genuinely interested in your services/offering - hence their willingness to opt-in.
Opt-ins are a legal requirement because you can't send SMS marketing messages without consent. So to succeed with lead generation via SMS, you must first concentrate on growing your subscriber list.
Text marketing offers plenty of benefits, including being:
Personal, fast and direct - texts are delivered to recipients' SMS inboxes within minutes.
Useful for nurturing leads over time with regular, consistent messaging.
Ideal for real-time back-and-forth chats to answer clients' questions.
Easy to personalise with the client's name, a link to recommended properties, etc.
Here's an example text you might send:
Hi Jack, I have a 3-bed property that meets your criteria, and it's under budget. See it on our website: [URL] Would you like to arrange a viewing?
It's best to use a professional platform for SMS lead generation and real estate marketing to benefit from features like contact management, audience segmentation, mass and two-way messaging, and reporting.
With Messente's solution, you can use these text marketing features to your advantage and also connect via WhatsApp and Viber for an omnichannel approach. Messente integrates with many real estate CRM tools, such as Zoho and Zillow, and allows you to send automated or scheduled messages based on specific triggers.
2. Email marketing
Like SMS, you must get explicit opt-ins for email marketing. You can easily add an email capture form to your website and start collecting subscribers. And you can send much longer messages and embed recommended property details into the content with pictures and videos.
Email is a good option for promoting several properties on your books at any one time and for reinforcing your branding, as you can be really flexible with the content. However, it's not the best option if you want to reach someone urgently – emails can get lost in a cluttered inbox or may be checked later when the recipient has time to read through.
3. Social media platforms
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram are all useful channels for spreading the word about new properties and generating engagement. You can showcase a particular home with photos, floorplans and particulars and even provide updates on the local housing market, best mortgage brokers, etc.
Social media isn't as direct as SMS and email because you don't have subscribers to send details to. In contrast, you'll rely on new leads to follow you and scroll through the properties you're promoting. So you must continually post interesting content to attract buyer and seller leads.
4. Local community involvement
A more traditional method – one that's very helpful for generating leads locally – is to get your business known in the local community. You can organise or sponsor local events, partner with other companies, and provide free information sessions and webinars.
For example, you could identify a business that complements yours, such as a home furnishings retailer, and arrange a social media takeover, where you post on the retailer's channels and vice versa. Or host an information session for budding property developers looking to start their portfolio.
This strategy involves some effort and time on your part but done right, it can certainly pay off and lead to some good referrals.
5. Direct mail marketing
Direct mail is a time-tested strategy which involves sending a printed letter, brochure or leaflet to prospects at their current address. Again, you need consent and contact details for this type of activity.
Direct mail can be a refreshing alternative to the digital communications we all get so regularly nowadays. In a recent survey by USPS Delivers, 70% of Gen X respondents are excited to get mail, and 71% said direct mail is more personal than digital comms.
Another option with direct mail is to carry out a blanket flyer drop to hundreds or thousands of addresses within certain ZIP code areas. You don't need contact details for this, however, blanket flyer drops aren't targeted (you have no way of knowing if households contain seller, renter, and buyer leads).
6. Word-of-mouth referrals
A good reputation is paramount in the real estate industry. Word-of-mouth referrals from past clients can majorly impact business growth, with many prospects choosing not to bother contacting other agents once they've heard a good testimonial about you.
As a real estate agent, you're effectively dealing with people's lives because moving home is such a significant life event. So always aim to offer impeccable service and go above and beyond to ensure sales and contracts are delivered promptly and smoothly. When problems arise, tackle them quickly and efficiently with minimal disruption to clients.
Advertising in the property sections of local printed newspapers is a very old and classic method. It is becoming outdated (even many baby boomers have shifted to online now). Yet there's mileage for success depending on the region you're operating in. Many older demographics around the world still rely heavily on the papers for all their information.
Newspaper advertising can be resource-heavy – you'll need to create copy, artwork and liaise with a publisher – and the ROI may be low. It's worth noting that many traditional newspapers now publish an online edition that may get a wider readership.
The best lead generation strategies for a real estate agent
For real estate professionals, the ability to generate leads is a necessity. If you're looking at paid lead generation companies, the five mentioned in this article will provide a good starting point for your research. Aside from lead generation systems, consider digital and traditional methods such as text, email and social media marketing, printed adverts and flyers, community involvement and, importantly – building your reputation.
Discover how to use text marketing for your real estate business – register for your free Messente account today.